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AQMesh shows the air quality impact of COVID town centre pedestrianisation

03-Nov-2021Local authoritiesUK

AQMesh shows the air quality impact of COVID town centre pedestrianisation

A UK local authority measured the difference in local air pollution levels when reopening roads that had previously been closed for social distancing purposes as part of Covid-19 mitigation efforts.

One of the major roads through the busy town centre had been closed during lockdown, with the centre’s main bus stops also relocated from their usual location on an adjoining road. The pedestrianisation of parts of the town centre had originally been to allow for social distancing, however the reduction in traffic has shown that the road closures could be a good mitigation strategy for local pollution.

10 AQMesh pods were deployed across the town centre, measuring NO, NO2, O3 & PM at key locations before and after July 19th when all COVID restrictions were lifted, the road reopened and the original bus stops were reinstated.

Once the usual traffic through the area resumed, pollution levels for NO, NO2 and PM2.5 were seen to increase compared to the monitoring period during the closures. Average levels of NO2 were 1.4 times higher, with average levels of NO being 13 times higher and PM levels 2.9 times higher. Additionally, the pods saw no elevated pollution levels on the routes and bus stops to which traffic was diverted during closures.

This short-term AQMesh rental solution provides a good example of the impact that traffic reduction has on local air quality and how road closures can be used as an effective pollution intervention method.